Reuben May (1800-1840)
Fred T. May
In 1868 three sons of Reuben May1 George Allen May, John May and Jack May established the Reuben May Chapel in memory of their father. When Reuben died on September 20, 1840 at the age of forty, these sons were only 12, 8 and 6 respectively. Two months later Reuben's last child, a daughter they named Reuben Ann, was born and Sally, his thirty year old widow had nine young children to rear. She dedicated her life to this task with the help of the Allen and Patton families in the area. All of her children grew to adulthood and became highly respected citizens in the county and she was still living when the small chapel was built by her sons. Sally died eight years later on November 26, 1876.
John donated the land in lower Maytown and Jack (Andrew Jackson) furnished the materials. The brothers constructed a one-room building with crude homemade pews and a new organ and pulpit. Two bells for the chapel were shipped up Big Sandy River and then on up Beaver Creek to the small community. A tradition in the church was to ring the Death Bell with one gong for each year of life of the deceased member.
In 1905 the church was one of five that composed the Beaver Mission. By 1911 the congregation had outgrown the small chapel and the church was moved up the street and enlarged to the final size. During the 1920s the congregation purchased land in Upper Maytown and built a parsonage. No longer called Reuben May Chapel, it was known as M.E. Church South and was part of the Allen-Martin-Maytown-Garrett-Wayland Charge. These were the small towns that extended from the Big Sandy River, up Beaver Creek and Right Beaver Creek. In 1933 the lots where the church now stands were purchased for $500 and the building was dissembled piece-by-piece and rebuilt. Horse-drawn wagons loaned by the Kentucky West Virginia Gas Company were used for this task.
In 1952 the church building was raised a few feet to provide room for Sunday School classes, restrooms, a kitchen and recreation room. This also placed the sanctuary above the high water level that occasionally comes with floods on Right Beaver Creek. The church was allied as part of a "Charge" with different churches throughout the years. In 1990 the choir space was enlarged and renovated.2
Masaleete Patton ends her brief history of the church in 1990 with:
"The continuous faith and prayers of dedicated Christians through these 122 years have preserved a church that is a powerful witness to the love of God for his people."
1 Reuben May, a son of John and Sarah Phillips May, married Sarah (Sally) Allen in 1825 and they first lived on Shelby Creek in Pike County. About 1829 he and Sally moved to a farm on Beaver Creek where Sally's family had lived for a number of years. In 1832 Reuben purchased 100 acres from a brother-in-law, Henry Patton for $300 thought to be the same land which became the location of Maytown.
2 The church is no longer active in the community, but the building is still standing.